Stefanie Hage, 3rd grade teacher at John Harris Elementary School, was announced earlier this evening as the 2017 Dr. John W. Harris Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hage has been a teacher in the Sioux Falls School District for 14 years and at John Harris for the past 9 years.
The Sioux Falls School District and Vern Eide Motorcars co-sponsor the annual Teacher of the Year award and made the announcement Monday night. Vern Eide Motorcars has been providing a financial award for the winner annually since 1989. This year, Michael Larsen from Vern Eide generously presented Mrs. Hage with a check for $4,000.
Parents say, “Mrs. Hage is aware and innovative. When you walk into her classroom, there are no traditional desks. She knows that many 3rd graders struggle to sit still for long periods of time to learn, so she was one of the first in the district to create a flexible seating classroom – exercise bikes, yoga mats, ball chairs and more provide natural comfort to the students and improve educational outcomes. She currently has each student working on a Genius Hour, where the student comes up with an individual question of interest to them. Then, he or she receives an hour of carved out time each week to research their approved question before putting together a presentation for parents. She also created the John Harris Courage Coffee House, a project where she invited students to write a poem about why they are courageous, a story of when they exemplified courage and study a historical figure they believe demonstrated courage. The entire school benefits from her dedication to the John Harris STEM lab. She researches, plans and sets up activities for the entire school to help them grow conceptual understanding through creative play in ways classroom knowledge cannot offer. Mrs. Hage is deeply invested in providing an age-appropriate atmosphere for student success, fueling desire to learn and growing a giving spirit for all. She goes above and beyond required standards in every way.”
There were a record 70 nominees for Teacher of the Year in 2017, the 29th year of the program.
Other 2017 finalists were: Tania Grogan, Whittier Middle School – ELL; Amanda Hotchkin, Oscar Howe Elementary – 5th Grade; Sara Klaahsen, Lincoln High School – ELL; Julie Sehr, Harvey Dunn Elementary – 3rd Grade.